California Chrome Sharpens Up at Los Alamitos

California Chrome Sharpens Up at Los Alamitos

Photo: Courtesy Los Alamitos – California Chrome went 4 furlongs in :47 2/5 on

The morning after his connections selected the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for his return race, California Chrome picked up his pace at Los Alamitos Race Course Aug. 22 with a bullet half-mile drill.

Trainer Art Sherman had California Chrome’s regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard for the first time since the dual classic winner ran fourth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 7 while attempting to sweep the Triple Crown.

California Chrome was clocked in a smart :47 2/5, handily, the swiftest of 15 on the morning over the one-mile Los Alamitos oval.

“I wanted to crank down on him just a little bit, and it went perfect,” Sherman said in reference to bringing Espinoza up from Del Mar to ride California Chrome. “I caught him going :13 and two (1:13 2/5) for three-quarters. (California Chrome) puts a lot into his works, and when he’s on his game, he works really easy. I was really pleased with the work. We’ll keep stepping it up, we’ll go five-eighths (next time).”

It was the third workout for the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit   since he returned to training last month following a five-week break, and by far his quickest. With exercise rider Anna Wells aboard each time, the sleek chestnut had a three-furlong move Aug. 8 in :37 3/5, followed by a half-mile drill Aug. 15 in :50 2/5.

Espinoza said California Chrome is getting stronger.

“I think he’s coming back good,” the jockey said. “It was pretty nice and easy.”

Sherman said California Chrome is scheduled to work next Aug. 29 at the Orange County track. There are also plans to have the colt drill at Los Alamitos during the Los Angeles County Fair meet Sept. 6 between the third and fourth races.

Plans call for California Chrome to run in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 20. If so, he would become the first Kentucky Derby winner to run at Parx Racing. Sherman told the Philadelphia News that California Chrome would ship for the race by Sept. 15.

The Pennsylvania Derby would be California Chrome’s final race before the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.

If for some reason California Chrome is unable to make the race, Sherman said the $300,000 Awesome Again (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Santa Anita would be the second option.

Owned by his breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome has won five of six starts in 2014 while banking $3,317,800. In additon to his victories in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), he has also won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) this season.


The Jockey Club Elects Six New Members

The Jockey Club has elected six new members—Ian G. Banwell, Everett R. Dobson, Helen Groves, Roy Jackson, William Shively, and Frank Stronach—it was announced Aug. 20.

Banwell and his wife, Caroline, own St. George Farm near Lexington and race their horses as St. George Farm Racing. Banwell, the CEO and owner of Round Table Investment Management Company, became involved in Thoroughbred racing as a result of a boyhood friendship with veterinarian Bryan Boone. He is a member of the Keeneland board of directors and races many horses in partnership with G. Watts Humphrey Jr.

Dobson has owned and raced Thoroughbreds since 1996. He owns Cheyenne Stables and a commercial breeding operation, Candy Meadows, as well as a minority investment in Three Chimneys Stallions. In 1989, he founded Dobson Communications Corporation which became one of the largest wireless service providers in the U.S. before its sale to AT&T in November 2007.

Groves, a direct descendent of Richard King of the legendary King Ranch in Texas, breeds and raises Thoroughbreds and also owns several ranches and raises Quarter Horses. She is an accomplished equestrian and a former director of King Ranch Incorporated. Her father, Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. was a member of The Jockey Club and a founding director of the Keeneland Association. Her daughters, Helen Alexander, Emory Hamilton, Caroline Forgason, Henrietta Alexander and Dorothy Matz, have been actively involved in the Thoroughbred industry as well.

Jackson and his wife, Gretchen, began breeding racehorses in 1978 at Lael Farm, located in the midst of steeplechase and show horse country in West Grove, Pa. Roy Jackson, after his career in the management end of professional baseball ended in 2004, began devoting his full attention to breeding and racing in the United States and Europe. Lael Stable campaigned the popular 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro.

Shively and his wife, Donna, purchased Dixiana Farm near Lexington in 2004, Woodlynn Farm (later renamed Woodland Farm) in 2006, and Domino Stud in 2009. He is a Keeneland director and a member of the Breeders’ Cup. He is chairman and CEO of Tower Hill Insurance Group near Gainesville, Fla., a group of five property and casualty insurance companies. Tower Hill is a leading provider of homeowner’s insurance in Florida.

Stronach, who owns the commercial breeding operation Adena Springs, has been involved in Thoroughbred racing for more than 40 years. He has earned eight Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding breeder and four others as outstanding owner. The Stronach family and Adena Springs have bred and/or campaigned more than 200 stakes winners. He is the founder and honorary chairman of The Stronach Group, which operates Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Maryland Jockey Club, Golden Gate Fields, and Portland Meadows.

Wise Dan to Make Return in Bernard Baruch


Wise Dan to Make Return in Bernard Baruch

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt – Wise Dan

If all goes well, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan will begin his road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 30.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti had said previously he was leaning toward he Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) at Canada’s Woodbine Racecourse as the most likely spot for the 7-year-old gelding’s comeback after recovering from colic surgery, but he opted for the Bernard Baruch two weeks earlier because “he’s doing very well right now. He’s on top of his game.”
LoPresti said there is still a possibility Morton Fink’s homebred, who has earned more than $6.8 million, would not run in the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch on grass, but right now that is the plan.
“We will enter and see how the race comes up, but if you aren’t entered you won’t run. I am going to enter and see how it turns out and how the horse does. He’s awful good right now. I just don’t want to sit on him forever and if I don’t enter I won’t have a chance to run.”
If, for some reason, such as inclement weather that affected the Saratoga course conditions on Bernard Baruch day, and Wise Dan did not run Aug. 30 then he would be pointed toward the mile race at Woodbine, the conditioner said.
“The goal for this horse right now is the best route to get him to the Breeders’ Cup,” LoPresti said. “He’s very good right now. This race makes sense. He’s right in his back yard. All he has to do is walk across the street and run. Unless something goes wrong within the next 10 days, my decision is to enter in the Bernard Baruch and if all the stars line up, he will run in the Bernard Baruch.”
Also, according to LoPresti, there is even the possibility of Wise Dan running in both the Bernard Baruch and Ricoh Mile.
“He will go home to Keeneland Race Course as soon as this meet is over with, and then I have options to either run him in the Shadwell (Turf Mile, gr. IT, Oct. 4) or, who knows, maybe if this race doesn’t take too much out of him run in the Woodbine Mile in two weeks and not run in the Shadwell Mile, or vice-versa.
“It just depends on how everything comes along. We have to work backward from the Breeders’ Cup because that is the ultimate goal. But he is 110% right now and I think it makes sense to enter in this race (Bernard Baruch).”
During his 2012 Horse of the Year campaign, Wise Dan used victories in both the Ricoh Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile en route to success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT). Last year, Wise Dan won the Woodbine stakes and was second in the Keeneland stakes before successfully defending his Breeders’ Cup Mile title and a second Horse of the Year and champion male turf horse championship.

In his only two starts this year, Wise Dan was a repeat winner in both the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, both grade I.

Since recovering from the mid-May colic bout, the gelding has been working steadily toward his comeback.

HBPA Horsemen Reaffirm Support of Lasix

HBPA Horsemen Reaffirm Support of Lasix
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association restated its strong support for the continued use of Lasix (furosemide, also commonly called Salix) at its summer convention Aug.15-17 in Oklahoma City.
Lasix is currently the only recognized treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
The National HBPA joins the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the California Thoroughbred Trainers in supporting Lasix use in recent statements. Together these four horsemen’s groups have nearly 50,000 owner and trainer members who race in the United States and Canada.
Those attending the Oklahoma City convention heard a panel of nationally recognized experts stating that current medical science does not support The Jockey Club’s call for banning the race-day use of Lasix. The NHBPA says a ban would inevitably be harmful to horses.
In June, The Jockey Club called on industry stakeholders to come together to conduct a Lasix study that would examine the timing of administration of the medication to prevent EIPH. The organization also has said it would pursue federal legislation toward a national policy on medication reform in racing.
Pulmonary bleeding is inextricably associated with horses, and puts the health of horses and safety of jockeys at risk, the National HBPA stated in a release.
“Until a better treatment for this progressive disease is identified, there is no possible ethical or humane justification for depriving racing horses and their riders of the protective therapeutic benefits of Lasix.”


LoPresti Leans to Woodbine Mile for Wise Dan


LoPresti Leans to Woodbine Mile for Wise Dan

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Trainer Charlie LoPresti was still mulling over comeback options for Wise Dan but seemed more inclined toward deciding after sending the two-time Horse of the Year through his third dirt work at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 16.

Under regular exercise rider Damien Rock, Morton Fink’s homebred gelding clicked through five furlongs in 1:01.64 on the main track at the upstate New York oval. Following the move—Wise Dan’s sixth since returning to training from May 16 colic surgery—LoPresti said the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) is emerging as the most likely comeback race for the six-time Eclipse Award winner.

“He did really good; we were really pleased with him and I think everybody was happy with what they saw,” LoPresti said. “I think he’s turned the corner in the last three weeks, he just needed a little bit of time.”

LoPresti had mentioned the Aug. 9 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) or the Aug. 30 Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT), both at Saratoga, as options for 7-year-old Wise Dan.

In his only two starts this year, Wise Dan aced repeat victories in the Maker’s 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. But the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner did not start in the Fourstardave, a race he won in 2012 and 2013.

“Ten weeks ago the horse had his belly open on the operating table,” LoPresti said. “It’s just a slow, fragile process getting him to where I wanted him to be.”

After working Wise Dan once on the Keeneland lawn July 11 and twice on the turf at Saratoga’s Oklahoma oval, LoPresti shifted to the Saratoga dirt to continue the gelding’s stamina-building exercises. The chestnut son of Wiseman’s Ferry   went six furlongs Aug. 9 on the main track, in company with stablemate Luzianna Man.

“Last week was when I really pushed him, because I felt like he had enough bottom in him,” LoPresti said. “That was the work where I really tightened the screws down, and today I expected him to work like his old self.”

While LoPresti did not rule out the Bernard Baruch as a potential starting point for Wise Dan’s second-half season, he said the Woodbine Mile seems more likely. Wise Dan won the 2013 Woodbine Mile in a track-record 1:31.75 after winning the 2012 edition as well, both races that propelled him toward his Breeders’ Cup Mile victories at the end of the year.

“I’m not sure what the right thing to do is,” the trainer said of choosing Wise Dan’s first race back. “If I run him in the Bernard Baruch, I blow any chance of going to Woodbine with him. Mr. Fink and I talked about it a little bit last week, and we’re going to talk about it this week. We’re leaning more towards the Woodbine race, to be honest.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the grade I status and the kind of horse we still think he is,” LoPresti said. Why wouldn’t you run him back in a grade I? He’s done it every time off the bench. It’s a turf course that he really loves, he doesn’t have to carry (additional) weight, it’s a grade I Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In.’

“We could run him at Woodbine, run in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT), run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and come out of the Breeders’ Cup and if all went right, run in the Clark and put him away (for the winter) at the end of the year.”

Bred in Kentucky out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, Wise Dan has a record of 21 wins—10 of them in grade I events—and two seconds from 29 starts and earnings of $6,802,920.

Personal Diary Pens Del Mar Oaks Surprise


Personal Diary Pens Del Mar Oaks Surprise

Photo: Benoit Photo

Personal Diary flies home to take the Del Mar Oaks.

Lightly regarded Personal Diary took advantage of a hot pace with a sharp last-to-first move under Corey Nakatani to post a 9-1 surprise in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 23 on the Del Mar turf (VIDEO).
The final grade I event on an extremely busy Saturday day of racing from coast-to-coast, Personal Diary registered her first tally over winners while snapping an eight-race losing streak. Trainer Victoria Oliver conditions the City Zip   filly for owners and breeders G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and St. George Farm Racing.
Personal Diary paid $20.20 to win while completing the 1 1/8-mile journey over Del Mar’s firm turf course in 1:47.56. She defeated the late-running Stellaris by 2 3/4 lengths, with pacesetter My Conquestadory a neck farther back in third. Sea Queen, the 7-5 favorite in the field of eight sophomore fillies, was nosed for the show spot while a disappointing fourth.

Oliver, 41, is Humphrey’s daughter and the wife of trainer Phil Oliver. She has one previous graded stakes victory, that coming with Direct Line in the 2010 Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park.
Personal Diary had been based at Keeneland prior to shipping to Del Mar last month. She was second in the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) via disqualification in June at Churchill Downs and had one prior start at Del Mar. The chestnut filly finished second in an off-the-turf allowance/optional claiming test by a head to Kool Kat on the Polytrack July 27.
Nakatani, who claimed his fourth lifetime win in the Del Mar Oaks, had a relaxed Personal Diary at the back of the field on the outside of a rival early on as My Conquestadory burst to the lead under Victor Espinoza. My Conquestadory attempted to go it all the way with Sea Queen, breaking from the outer gate, perched to her outside and Tepin and Famous Alice tracking.
My Conquestadory showed the way through fractions of :23.31, :46.80, and 1:11.15 before coming under full pressure from Sea Queen, who took a narrow advantage coming into the homestretch. Those two battled for the lead but Personal Diary, last rounding the final bend, made a nifty move splitting horses to reach contention in upper stretch. The smooth-striding filly took over on the outside approaching the eighth pole and left the others behind impressively under some left-handed urging.

“The filly ran a great race,” Nakatani said. “She put me in the right place the whole way. Then it was just a matter of finding some room.”
Under equal weights of 122 pounds, Personal Diary paid $20.20, $7, and $5 as the fourth choice. Illinois shipper Stellaris, ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Mike Stidham, came on late after dropping to seventh in the stretch and returned $10.80 and $6. The exacta came back $152.20. My Conquestadory, also third in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) last time out, paid $4 to show.

Sea Queen finished a neck better than Famous Alice, who was followed by Diversy Harbor, Odisseia, and Tepin. Istanford, who won the Sandy Blue Handicap the previous evening, and Maibaby were scratched.
A consistent type that has been running mostly in allowance company this season, Personal Diary improved her record to 2-4-2 in 10 races with earnings of $278,136.
Personal Diary is the first winner from three foals produced by the winning Tiznow   mare Latest Scoop. She has a 2-year-old full sister who is yet to start.

Mountaineer OK’d to Cut Races But Not Dates

The West Virginia Racing Commission Aug. 15 upheld a hearing officer’s recommendation that Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort can’t abandon December racing, but it allowed leeway should purse money not be available for the final month of the season.

Mountaineer had requested dropping 14 days in December. The Mountaineer Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors agreed to the request, but several members of the association stated objections and forced a hearing on the matter.

Most who attended the hearing voiced concerns over the move. Mountaineer, which used to race year-round, offers 210 days of racing 10 months a year with January and February dark.

The WVRC voted to take the action after a one-hour executive session. It voted unanimously to uphold hearing officer Jeff Blaydes’ recommendation, which called for racing through December but an immediate reduction to eight races a day, down from nine or 10.

Blaydes said Mountaineer didn’t provide proof there won’t be enough horses to race in December.

The adopted motion adds that if purse money runs out before the meet ends, racing can be suspended.

Mountaineer has experienced a decrease in revenue from video lottery terminals and table games because of competition from casinos in neighboring states. And this fall Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course will open just west of Youngstown, Ohio, which is Mountaineer’s primary market.

Commissioner Bill Phillips recommended officials with WVRC and Ohio State Racing Commission seek some common ground given a reduction in the number of racehorses in the region and nationwide, as well as a more regional approach to scheduling races.

Phillips spoke specifically about Mountaineer and Mahoning Valley, which are located about 45 minutes apart. Mahoning Valley will race from November through late April.

“We should talk about influencing the two tracks to not run back-to-back on some days,” he said.

As it stands now, Mahoning Valley, which will replace Beulah Park on the winter schedule in Ohio, plans to race Monday through Wednesday and Saturday afternoons; Mountaineer races at night those four days of the week.

Online Poker Bills Shelved in California

Another California legislative session will draw to close at the end of August without action on an Internet poker bill, but in this instance, it is a victory for the state’s racing industry.
The powerful tribal casino lobby had two measures in the works that would have allowed online poker for state residents, one in the Senate and the other in the Assembly, but both are shelved for this year. Resistance to the bills, which limited potential licensees to the tribes and selected card clubs, was led in great part by the horse racing industry because of its exclusion.
It is the third consecutive year that action to get state Internet poker legislation passed has failed. Robyn Black, a lobbyist for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, says 2015 will be the year “we are going to get it done in California.”
“Horse racing has made tremendous progress this year,” she said, in convincing lawmakers that it belongs in the online poker mix. She called the delay in action at the current session “a huge win” for racing.
A fresh bill more favorable to racing will likely be presented in December.
Black said the majority of the casino tribes are now in favor of allowing horse racing interests to be licensed in order to get a consensus from the Legislature, but that racing still faces resistance from some of the more powerful members.
She noted, though, that racing’s argument that online poker is not part of the state initiative that voters approved in 1998 giving tribes exclusivity for casino gaming has gained traction. Black said she was confident that an online poker bill excluding racing would face strong obstacles once again, and that most of the tribes have come to accept that.
“It’s been a good old-fashioned standoff,” Black said. “But we’re the ones with the moral high ground. All the tribes want to do is limit competition.”
It’s estimated that more than one million Californians are wagering illegally with off-shore Internet poker sites. So, the stakes are considerable for a once-powerful state racing industry seeking a new avenue of revenue with traditional sources of alternative gaming off limits.
Black pointed out that lawmakers are finally acknowledging racing’s importance to the state economy as well. They want to help the industry where they can, she said, even in the face of the powerful tribal casino lobby.

She noted the tremendous reception given the owners and breeders of California Chrome Aug. 14 when both halves of the Legislature unanimously passed a resolution honoring the colt’s achievements during the 2014 Triple Crown campaign.
“We’ve been complacent for a number of years,” she said, because of the difficulty in fighting tribal clout. “But we have something they don’t have, and that’s horses.”